Knee issues? These exercises will help.

It seems as though everyone and their brother has or has had some form of knee issue. You can't watch a sporting event without some player suffering an injury to something in the knee!

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Naturally, when something gets injured, rehabilitative work is usually focused on the area that was traumatized. But what if I told you that the vast majority of knee issues, from the slightest ache to some of the most gruesome injuries, could be prevented by strengthening other areas of the body to better support the knee? 

Now, it should be made clear that certain types of injuries, including some to to the knee, are unavoidable; if your foot is planted and someone else slams into your knee and pushes it somewhere it shouldn't go, there's not much that preventative maintenance can do to prepare for that. 

However, if after activity your knees are screaming at you, your knees just ache constantly, or you can't even participate in activity due to knee pain/discomfort, there is hope! 

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The knee is, in many ways, like the marker on the rope in a tug-of-war competition. If the little flag moves past the marker, is it because the flag was unfairly inclined to move that way? If the rope snaps in the middle, is it because the rope was too frail? Or should we be looking at what is pulling on the rope? 

Imagine one team pulling on the rope as the muscles at the hip and torso, and the other team as the muscles of the foot and ankle. If there is disproportionate pull from one team, the middle of the rope has to move by necessity. If we want to keep the rope from moving, we need to make sure that the teams are pulling equally and not so hard that the rope is going to snap (the muscles and ligaments controlling the knee being forced to do things they aren't built to do). 

In more ways than one, the knee is a dummy at the mercy of what is going on in joints around it. If we can stabilize and balance the hip/torso and the foot/ankle, people seem to feel much better and experience less issues. Several studies indicate a strong inverse relationship between hip/core/foot/ankle strength and knee injuries/issues.

The best way to ensure this stability and strength is through a combination of Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) and precisely personalized strengthening exercises, systematically removing the imbalances that cause compensation and then strengthening the body in this more balanced state. 

However, general home strengthening exercises can also work wonders! I have put together a simple list of exercises with explanations and pictures that you can use on a daily basis to increase stability in your core, hips, and feet/ankles that will not only help your knees feel better, but will help your whole body work and feel better throughout the day!

I have used these exercises with my clients to great effect in combination with MAT, and even on their own, they will help tremendously. 

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Seven Exercises for Healthy Feet

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You may not think about them all the time, but most of the time your feet are the connection between the world around you and the rest of your body. They are your base, and when a base is unstable, the effects reverberate up the chain and wreak havoc throughout the rest of your body. 

Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, ankle sprains - foot and ankle ailments are some of the most annoying out there! 

Luckily, specific strengthening exercises can help to prevent these issues from plaguing your feet and allow your foundation to remain solid and healthy. 

Here are seven easy exercises you can do almost anywhere to help keep your feet healthy and functioning properly!


For each of these exercises,

  • Set up in a seated position with the foot flat on the floor. Try to keep the foot pointed forward or slightly out.
  • Slowly move into the position shown in the picture and hold it for 6 seconds. Perform each hold 6 times. 
  • Begin count after reaching the position.
  • All movements into and out of the position in the pictures should be done slowly and under control! 
  • LISTEN TO YOUR BODY if you begin to cramp, relax immediately and rest for awhile before resetting, perhaps in a lesser amount of motion. If the problem persists, move on to the next exercise and try it again another day! 

 

Big Toe Extension

Drive little toes into floor and lift big toe up. Keep little toes down. MODIFY by using your hands to hold the little four toes down and pull big toe up if need be. 

Little Toe Extensions 

Drive big toe down into floor and lift four little toes up. Keep big toe down. MODIFY by using hands to hold big toe down and help pull little toes up if need be.

Short Foot

Keep all toes in contact with floor and try not to let them move. Contract the bottom of your foot, increasing the arch. A little bit of toe sliding on the ground is okay as the arch increases, however the friction of your toes and the ground should prevent most motion.

Tibial Internal Rotation.jpg

Tibial Internal Rotation

In a controlled manner, spin your right foot and lower leg inward, so that your toe is pointing towards your other foot. Do not allow knee to move to side/side or front/back. 

Peroneal Push

Starting with foot flat, contract muscles on the outside of lower leg to pull the outside of your foot up and away from other foot. When foot is flat, small toes are slightly below big toe. Now big toe should be even with or slightly below little toes. 

Ankle Dorsiflexion with Toes Up.jpg

Ankle Dorsiflexion

Keep heel in contact with the floor and lift the top of the foot up towards the knee. For the 1st version, curl the toes once the foot is raised, without letting the foot drop. For the 2nd version, drive the toes up even more once the foot is raised. 

If you have questions or concerns about the exercises, please reach out and I will do my best to help you out! Happy exercising! 

Your Body's Check Engine Light

If your car has an engine issue of any kind, your check engine light will flash on (hopefully!).

When the light illuminates on your car's dashboard, do you interpret the light as the issue that needs to be addressed? Do you break the light bulb? Do you snip the wire that completes the circuit to the bulb? Do you smash the dash with a hammer until it breaks? Do you put tape over the light so you can't see it anymore?

If you do, your car probably won't run very well for very long! 

This light is an indication that something has gone awry under the hood. As a result, you take your vehicle to an automobile professional, someone who can seek and root out the underlying reason that caused the light to pop on in the first place. They might find that that your brake fluid is low, that you need an oil change, or that some specific part needs replacing. 

The light coming on is a simple case of cause and effect, and everyone knows so. The effect is the light turning on, and the cause is what the car professional will hopefully find for you. 

Your body works in much the same way. When there is something wrong anywhere in our bodies, pain and discomfort typically warn us that we should probably check under our body's hood. 

So why is it that when we get pain in our hamstrings, low back, or feet we automatically assume that the area in pain is the place that needs the attention? Could it be that this pain is an effect caused by dysfunction or imbalance elsewhere in our bodies? 

You have two basic options when your check engine light illuminates: mask the light by breaking it or covering it up, or bring your vehicle to mechanic, a car specialist, someone who can figure out why that light is on. 

In much the same way, you have two options when your body is in pain: take medications or implement techniques that cover up the pain, or bring your body to a muscle specialist, a "muscle mechanic" if you will, someone who can figure out why you are in pain. 

We know where to find mechanics for our vehicles; they're on virtually every corner. But to whom can you take your body with the same confidence you take your car when a thorough assessment is in order? 

Enter Greg Roskopf's Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT).

As an MAT practitioner, one can assess and address where those root causes of your pain are. Instead of targeting the area that is in pain, which is typically not the area causing you pain, we can find out what that pain is actually trying to warn you of.

This allows MAT practitioners to get straight to the cause instead of fighting back against the symptoms of your issue(s). 

Just as changing the oil and getting a tune up regularly on your vehicle will increase its longevity and combat the constant wear of driving, consistent muscular tuneups with MAT will increase the longevity and quality of your body as life beats it up.

Discover the difference of Muscle Activation Techniques for yourself! Find and contact your local MAT practitioner here

How to Make Your Chiropractic Adjustments Hold Longer

Love your chiropractic work, but don’t love getting adjusted every couple days?

Chiropractors undoubtedly do some amazing work, having helped and continuing to help people with various issues around the globe; I am certainly one of them. My history as a chiropractic patient has shown me nothing but positive returns. When I walk out of her office, I feel like a million bucks.

But one question I consistently asked myself was: why is it that sometimes the adjustments only hold for a day or two? Why do I revert back to how I was before the adjustment?

This question opened up a door, behind which were only more questions.

What causes my alignment to be off? Why do I need to get adjusted in the first place? And why do I have to visit once a week, sometimes even more frequently, to get the same work done?

Midway through my college tenure, I contracted strep throat. While it was awful, it provided me with an invaluable insight that made all the weeks of agony completely worth it.

Would it make the most sense for me to address only the symptoms, using lozenges for the sore throat, aspirin for the headache and fever, and ointment for the rash while waiting for the bacteria to run its course? Or would using only antibiotics be the more sensible approach, waiting for the cause to be addressed while I suffered from the symptoms?

Neither! I was using both antibiotics to treat the bacterial cause while I used the aforementioned remedies to soothe the symptoms.

If I focused only on the what, the symptoms of illness, the misalignment of the spine, and didn’t address why, why I had strep throat, why the vertebrae were aligned improperly, I would only get a portion of the picture.

The next question I asked myself was, what is this why? Why is my structural alignment so, to be completely scientific, wonky?

It was then that I began to realize that the main reason, the root cause, for misalignment is improper and unbalanced muscular function.

The vertebrae of the spine are being constantly pulled on from multiple directions by numerous muscles. If the balance of muscular pull isn’t proper, and certain muscles are pulling more or less than they should, your spinal alignment can and will be thrown out of whack.

When adjusted by a chiropractor, the vertebrae are nudged back into proper alignment. But, often, this is only a temporary patch. Why? Because if the root cause of improper alignment is not addressed – how well the muscles are functioning not only as individuals, but as a unit – then the longevity of your realignment could be in jeopardy.

To be quite clear, this is not to discredit or devalue the work of my chiropractor, your chiropractor, or any chiropractor. But I began to wonder, asking myself if there was something else, some other component, any adjunct to my chiropractic care that could help my adjustments work better and hold for longer.

The answer was a resounding yes.

I was introduced to a personal trainer. At first, when I heard personal trainer, I was doubtful. I didn’t want a beach body, I wanted to feel and move like I should have been able to as a 16 year-old athlete. But I decided to give it a shot, figuring that I had to start with some sort of muscular care to augment my chiropractor’s work.

To my astonishment, he was not like any personal trainer I had previously known, but one who had a very specific and unique set of tools, the likes of which I had never before seen. He was a fitness professional unlike anyone I had ever met, a true muscle specialist. After working with this trainer, I realized I wanted to do for others what he had done for me.

This muscular care came in the shape of completely personalized and appropriate exercise, entirely unique in its implementation, unique to me, my body, and my goals, combined with Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT).

This care was focused on getting my muscular function back to a balanced condition, with a goal of reducing compensation and returning my musculoskeletal system to its optimal state.

When my chiropractic adjustments were coupled with consistent and frequent application of this diligently attentive care for the muscular side of the equation, my adjustments not only began holding far longer, in some areas they even began holding indefinitely.

In much the same way as antibiotics and symptom treatments work in conjunction with one another when you have an illness like strep throat, chiropractic adjustments can ease the symptoms of pain and discomfort that come with poor alignment while MAT and appropriate, personalized, unique exercise can deal with the root cause.

Experience the perfect combination, focus on the what and the why! Reach out today and schedule your consultation!  

Muscle Tightness? Try Muscle Activation Techniques!

Burdened by muscle tightness, but can't seem to get rid of it? Maybe you need Muscle Activation Techniques! 

Two of my clients are suffering from tight hamstrings. They both complain that they only feel their hamstrings when they walk, sit, stand, or perform any exercise. Their focus is naturally drawn to that area. Something must be wrong with the hamstrings. How can we loosen them up?

Stretch the hamstrings out.

Work out the hamstrings.

Massage the hamstrings.

What is wrong with my hamstrings? How can we fix my hamstrings?

As a Muscle Activation Techniques practitioner, I assessed how their joints were moving, how well their muscles were contracting. Lo and behold, their hamstrings were functioning just fine!

But some other muscle groups, although they were not areas that the clients complained about, were entirely dysfunctional and barely able to produce contractions. In these cases, the hip flexors on one client and the knee extensors on the other were lacking the ability to contract!

Their hamstrings were tightening up to protect their bodies from moving into places where stability was not present. Essentially, the hamstrings were tightening up as a symptom of a lack of stability elsewhere. Their hamstrings were saying, "we won't let you go any further because it isn't safe there."

Think of the hamstrings as the check engine lights on their cars. When your check engine light comes on, do you smash it with a hammer until it turns off, treating it like it is the problem? Or do you take your car in to see a specialist, who can find out what is causing the light to come on in the first place?

MAT allowed me to find that lack of communication in their hip flexors and knee extensors, and bring it back. Once I brought back the ability to contract, both clients got up and immediately noticed that the tightness in their hamstrings was alleviated. Their check engine lights were off now, because the parts in their engine that needed fixing had been taken care of.

MAT looks at tightness as secondary to muscular weakness, treating the cause of your tightness as opposed to the tightness itself, which is almost always a symptom.

Contact your local MAT practitioner today and feel the difference for yourself!